As the final weekend of the regular season approaches, it’s time to take a look at the CAA power rankings. JMU and Drexel face off in a pivotal game while Towson, Delaware and UNCW look to build momentum and emerge as the No. 3 seed. Here’s what the rankings look like ahead of this weekend’s games.
1. JMU (23-4, 15-1 CAA), previously No. 1
JMU comes into the weekend riding an 11-game winning streak and can lock up both the regular season conference title and No. 1 seed in the CAA tournament with a win over Drexel on Thursday or a win over Delaware on Saturday. Head coach Sean O’Regan’s team has won nine of its past 10 road games and should be considered a heavy favorite to win its fourth conference title in six seasons.
2. Drexel (21-6, 13-3 CAA), previously No. 2
Drexel will likely be the No. 2 seed in the CAA tournament after falling in a 76-72 upset loss to William & Mary on March 1. The Dragons would need road wins over JMU on Thursday and Towson on Saturday and a JMU loss at the hands of Delaware to catch the Dukes. Drexel relies on its CAA-best defense (48.6 points allowed per game) but its 59.7 points per game rank ninth in the conference. The Dragons can lock down most teams in the conference but need to score consistently to hang with an excellent two-way team in JMU.
3. Towson (17-10, 11-5 CAA), previously No. 3
Towson fell 63-56 at home to JMU on Sunday, which suggests the Tigers aren’t quite ready to compete with the Dukes. A win over the Dukes would’ve gone a long way toward building momentum for the tournament. Instead, Towson looks to knock off Delaware on Thursday and Drexel on Saturday. Closing the regular season against three of the best teams in the CAA isn’t easy, but the Tigers may be better off for it, as it’ll get them ready for high-stakes basketball next week.
4. Delaware (15-13, 10-6 CAA), previously No. 5
Delaware has a big week ahead of it that’ll determine its seeding in the CAA tournament. The Blue Hens play Towson on Thursday and JMU on Saturday and can leapfrog the Tigers in the standings with a pair of wins and a Towson loss to Drexel on Saturday. Delaware has gained momentum in recent weeks and will benefit from playing on its home court in the conference tournament, which makes it an interesting team to watch as a potential foil to JMU or Drexel.
5. Northeastern (17-10, 7-9 CAA), previously No. 6
Northeastern continues to be one of the biggest wild cards in the conference after dominating UNCW in a 29-point win on March 1. The Huskies have a losing record in-conference and lost by 35 to JMU on Jan. 13 but went 10-1 in their non-conference slate and knocked off Delaware, Towson and UNCW. The Huskies will be the No. 6 seed with a win this weekend as they face William & Mary on Thursday and Elon on Saturday.
6. UNCW (17-11, 10-7 CAA), previously No. 4
UNCW will close the regular season on Friday against the College of Charleston in what should be an opportunity for the Seahawks to end the year with a blowout win and get an extra day of rest before the postseason. After a startling 83-54 loss to Northeastern on March 1, UNCW responded with a 61-51 win over Hofstra two days later. Still, the Seahawks look much more like a pretender than a contender, even though they’re the only team in the CAA that’s taken down JMU this season.
7. William & Mary (13-14, 6-10 CAA), previously No. 7
William & Mary can avoid the first round of the conference tournament with a pair of wins over Northeastern and Hofstra along with a Northeastern loss to Elon. Even if the Tribe play against the No. 10 seed, that game could help the team continue to build momentum and get comfortable ahead of its game against the No. 2 seed. After a 76-72 win over Drexel on March 1, William & Mary showed it can be a dangerous team with an outside shot of winning a couple of games in the postseason.
8. Hofstra (9-19, 3-13 CAA), previously No. 9
Hofstra climbed from last place in the power rankings and would be the No. 8 seed if the season ended today. The Pride destroyed the College of Charleston 68-49 on March 1 and stayed competitive with UNCW in a 61-51 loss on Sunday. Hofstra will close the regular season with a pair of winnable games against Elon on Thursday and William & Mary on Saturday.
9. Elon (8-19, 3-13 CAA), previously No. 8
Elon has lost five games in a row and will be the No. 9 seed in the CAA Tournament if the College of Charleston falls to UNCW on Friday. In that case, the Phoenix will face the Pride in the first round with the right to face JMU in the next round. Elon is sixth in the CAA in offense (62.1) while Hofstra is 10th (58.8), but the Pride are a better defensive team. Hofstra is seventh in the conference at 65.6 points allowed while Elon is ninth at 69.5, which would make for a game of contrasting styles.
10. College of Charleston (7-21, 3-14 CAA), previously No. 10
The College of Charleston has dropped seven in a row and is last in the CAA in point margin (-9.8) and defense (71.3 points allowed per game). The Cougars will be the No. 10 seed unless they top UNCW on Friday and likely won’t be around very long in the tournament even if they do.
Contact James Faris at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more basketball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.